Leading readers on a journey through 10 contemporary cities—Ramallah, Amsterdam, Toronto, Mumbai, Johannesburg, Tainan, Chicago, Prague, Guangzhou, and São Paulo—this book lays bare the rich, complex history behind the familiar fixture of urban and suburban high-rises.
The first section, “A Short History of the Highrise,” traces high-rise communities back to the ancient world, from fourth-century Rome onward, including the five-story Montezuma Castle built by the Sinagua in Arizona in the 1100s and the tulou fortresses in Fujian, China. In a modern context, high-rises are described in their incarnations as crowded 19th-century dwellings for the urban poor and luxury towers for the rich and then, in the 20th-century, as ambitious public housing for the working and middle classes. The second part of the book, “The World in the Towers,” offers windows into how different societies have interpreted and utilized high-rises across time through profiles of individual residents—for example, a closeted lesbian in China, an African American woman from the Cabrini-Green towers in Chicago, and a fair housing activist in São Paulo. Color photographs enhance the narrative along with informative sidebars. Weaving together social and political history, information is framed in a lively manner that will help readers understand the social and environmental contexts of communities living in high-rises around the world.
A fascinating introduction to the social world of vertical human settlements. (resources, glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 12-16)